Good wines without breaking the bank. I’m all about that. I believe that a good bottle of wine can be had for under $10, and I’ve appointed myself the job to sniff those out. (I’ll be sure to let you know if it’s MORE than $10, because every now and then I taste those, too.) If YOU have a favorite wine, I’d love to know – so please leave a comment!
As the title says, I’m mad for red wines. I mostly prefer Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels, but there are some surprisingly good red blends out there, too. So sit back and enjoy!
Trader Joe’s Reserve Zinfandel 2012 Paso Robles, California Lot # 84 Alcohol 14.5% by Volume
On the Label: “Juicy raspberry, boysenberry and black cherry notes lead to vanilla oak and spice notes with a smooth, jammy finish.”
My Take: First off, a bit of snark. I’m really, really tired of wineries saying their wines taste “jammy”. I’ve never tasted a wine and said to myself, gee, that tastes like jam! I should dip my toast into it with breakfast! (Okay, so that IS a good idea – but you get my meaning.) On the positive side, that’s it for label chat. Boom. Done. LOVE it.
A bit of wisdom for you – when Trader Joe’s puts out a reserve with a Lot # on it, you can almost guarantee that it’s a good winery wine in that bottle. I met a wonderful guy who works at Letitia when Tom and I were up in Cambria; he told us that Letitia wine was in one of these bottles (I’d tell you which one, but TJ’s doesn’t stock it any more so there’s that). We grabbed two bottles and wish we’d grabbed more, as they were $9.99, and I don’t think you can find much Letitia wine under $10.
Oh, and the wine – yes, tasty. TASTY. Not “jammy” to my tastebuds at all, but definitely full of flavor and perfect with steak and potatoes or maybe a hearty lasagna. No, I don’t know which winery it’s from. If you find out, please let me know! BTW, here’s an article on it from Trader Joe’s online Fearless Flyer.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ The only danger is having a love affair with this type of wine can lead to heartbreak when they – suddenly – no longer carry it. Sigh.
With every conservative bottle of wine (see above), there is its wicked cousin who comes to dinner (below).
Stark Raving RED by Rosenblum Cellars Sonoma, California Alcohol 12.5% by Volume $8.99 at Vons
On the Label: “Some might think quitting your day job to pursue your passion for winemaking is crazy – even stark raving mad. Stark Raving ™ from Rosenblum Cellars is a tribute to our founder’s maniacal obsession with experimentation, which still inspires us today. Our Red Wine is a playful and bold blend of plum and bright red fruit flavors, proving that a little dose of madness can lead to extraordinary things.”
My Take: I loved this wine. I picked it up for the label – I bought it for the fact that it came from Rosenblum Cellars, and I can tell you I’ll definitely be buying it again. It’s a big wine, and does better with a little airing. It’s also got a screwtop, which I love (makes it fit in my fridge easier).
My Rating: ~ Drinkable Plus ~ I did love this wine, but I didn’t LOVE it. There are some who won’t like it – it might be a bit too brash. It’s DEFINITELY a food wine – not a sipper, in my opinion – but that’s okay because I like to eat when I drink wine, lol! But do give it a shot and let me know what you think. Here’s a link to a YouTube video that’s really fun – give it a shot!
So, what do you think?
In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10.
Finally, in my neck of the woods it is chilly in the mornings, pleasant during the day, and chilly again at night. Here are a couple of red wines to get you in the mood for cold nights and hearty meals.
Discoveries Vineyards, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; under $10 at Pavilions. Vinted and bottled by Firestone Vineyard, Sonoma, California
On The Label: “It’s not always the journey that changes our lives. It’s often the discoveries we make along the way. Our first discovery is a strategically placed chair and two reclining surf boards at Pierpont Beach in Ventura. Our second discovery is this Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are calm and peaceful. Only one has black currants and cassis in the finish. Front Label: Red Chair Lookin’ South by California artist Steve Cook.”
My Take: This was an easy-going wine, which was a surprise for a Cabernet Sauvignon. I like BIG cabs – this wasn’t. As the label said, it’s a calm and peaceful cab, good for sipping (which is rare) and goes well with food. Is it the first bottle of Cabernet I’d reach for if I had a hearty stew or steaks on the grill? No. But it’s a solid wine – the ’09, at any rate.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But nothing to write home about.
Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Meritage 2007 Red Wine Yountville, Napa Valley Alcohol 14.3% by Volume. $9.99 at Trader Joe’s
On The Label: (Not much!) “Cellared & bottled by Behind The Scene Wine Company, Napa, California.”
My Take: Some wines deserve the “Grand Reserve” label, and others don’t. In my opinion, this one didn’t, though it was a very tasty wine, indeed. I will say I LOVED the label and it’s total lack of pretension, lol. But then, that’s par for the course for Trader Joe’s. I’m glad they are putting their own wines out.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I’d have rated it higher, but that “Grand Reserve” title got to me.
Heartland Stickleback Red, 2009, South Australia Alcohol 14.5% by Volume – $22 in a restaurant.
On The Label: “Cabernet Sauvignon (45%) Shiraz (38%) Dolcetto (9%) LaGrein (8%) A dry, full-bodied red with wonderful depth of flavor, chocolate, sweet plums and blackcurrant on the palate are complemented by smooth, fine-grain tannina. Invite this fruit driven wine to your next barbecue and serve with char-grilled lamb or a juicy steak.”
My Take: Okay. Imagine this. Hubby and I are walking along in Carlsbad, headed to our favorite Italian restaurant even though neither one of us is in the mood for Italian. A cute young Aussie stops us, says they just opened their restaurant (The Australian Grill) two days earlier, and would we at least look at the menu?
We did, we sat, we ate. Hubby a lamb burger, and me a beef burger. Excellent food, excellent fries, and this wine which our waitress recommended as being “very Shirazzy”, lol.
The wine went very well with the food after it had some time to air. (Or maybe it was the second glass just tasted better, lol!) We sat on the patio, and true to our usual affect, we soon attracted other customers who didn’t know the place existed.
The restaurant was the dream of three women, all in their twenties. One was the chef, the other the Aussie hawker out front, and I’m not sure what the third did but she was bright and bubbly. I do hope they survive but I have my doubts! The next time we hit up Carlsbad, you can bet we’ll drop by and have another burger, if they’re still in business. (They also serve kangaroo burgers, but I just couldn’t take that leap of faith.)
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Okay, so I’m as susceptible to atmosphere as anyone else. I’d love to find this wine locally and give it another try, to see if it is still “Shirazzy”, lol. If you try it, let me know what you think!
As usual, these are my honest opinions and will depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!
In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December means Winter. This year, even here in sunny So Cal it’s been chilly. We’re used to 70 degree days, not 52 degree days. And nights below 40 degrees? Get out of town! So here are three red wines to warm you up on those chilly nights.
Found Object Carmenere, 2010 Colchagua Valley, Chile Under $10 at Trader Joe’s. 13.5% alcohol by volume
On the Label: “Context, it can change everything. Consider, for a moment, a wine among the crowd – yet not of the crowd What could be taken for granted (grape juice) becomes special when repurposed into something thought provoking. Consider this Carmenere worthy of your consideration.”
My Take: Okay, the label’s kinda weird. Like maybe the translator missed out on a few words. But at least it doesn’t tell us what to taste in the wine, and I like it for that reason.
If you’re not familiar with the varietal Carmenere, I can tell you that it was originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux in France; but little of it remains there now. The largest producer of Carmenere is Chile, with a few acres planted in other places such as California, Walla Walla, Washington, and eastern Italy.
The wine – silky. Not as easy a wine as a Pinot Noir, but not as in-your-face as a Zin or a Cabernet can be. It was the right wine, and went well with Turkey Pot Pie. This is my first time with this varietal (okay – that I can remember), and I really enjoyed it. It’s going on my list. The good part? Chilean wines are still low in price, and the quality is usually very high.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ It’s something a little different, and any discerning hostess would be pleased to receive this as a gift when you go to your holiday party this year.
Viriato 2008 Tinta de Toro, product of Spain. Under $8 at Trader Joe’s. Alcohol 14.5% by volume.
On the Label: “A modern well balanced Toro wine, aged for three months in French oak barrels with hints of mature red berries and notes of leather.”
My Take: Viriato is a Tempranillo – and (for my sake) translating again, similar to a Zinfandel. This wine is a lovely wine, great for sipping (would go fabulous with cheese and dips!) or with a juicy steak. This is not a “thinker’s” wine – not a wine you want to contemplate too much. It’s easy on the palate (but doesn’t “tease” your tastebuds) and has a high alcohol content – what more do you want to stir up your party? (Just sayin’.)
My Rating: ~ Good ~ Again, something a little different for your party-giving friends.
Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Alexander Valley Alcohol 13.5% by volume Regularly $17.00; $11.49 at Vons on Sale.
On the Label: “In the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley we blend our wins from small lots to fully express the essence of the varietal in each particular vineyard block. Winemaker Mich Schroeter and his team are passionate about crafting wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. Taste profile: Black cherry and blackbery flavors and mocha nuances with a long, rich finish. Enjoy with: Grilled or roasted beef, sauteed mushrooms and mature cheeses.”
My Take: I’m an unabashed fan of Geyser Peak, and have been since my travels to Sonoma County in the late 1980’s. We had this wine with steak, smashed potatoes and tiny asparagus and it was a lovely accompaniment to the meal. If you can get this at under $12 in your neighborhood, do – it’s a great price for a really lovely wine.
My Rating: ~Very Good~ Take this to a party only if you need to make a good impression. Otherwise, keep it at home and enjoy it with those you love. Or, you know – open it at the party and keep the bottle for yourself and one or two select friends!
Thanks so much for dropping in. Remember, these are my experiences based on my taste buds, how many near-misses the Eldest son had while driving that day, and how high the tides were. Your wine-drinking experience will undoubtedly vary. Remember – drink responsibly! Make sure you take along a designated driver to your holiday party.
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The Holidays are here – time to buy your copy of DEMON SOUL! Makes a great gift for that reader in the family, lol!
Thanks to David Hood for the photo - http://www.hourglasses.com/
I will not lie. I LOVE the time changes. I hope the government never gets rid of “Spring ahead, fall back”. There is something so urgent and hopeful about spring, moving the clock ahead, seeing daylight after getting home from the day job. Having the soft spring light in the early evening to wander in the garden, or to plant, weed, hover, dream in the half-light that happens (for me) between getting home from work and having to start dinner.
In fall, it’s even better. By November I’m tired of the heat, the unrelenting sun, the dry winds. Give me rains, and chilly weather. Give me a reason to wear sweaters here in southern California. I’m ready for it to be light at 5am. Let me enjoy the rare night fire, the family gathered around, mulled wine and hot cider available for everyone. (Trader Joe’s has a WONDERFUL spiced apple cider that is FABULOUS when heated.)
This year, I was doubly blessed on the night of the time change. Hubby and I went to an L.A. Kings game last night (hockey – we lost to the Penguins, waddle waddle) and due to overtime and a shootout, plus some nasty traffic on the 5 northbound (a big truck overturned and leaking oil/fuel/something flammable anyway, closed ALL lanes), we didn’t get home until 12:30am. Hubby had to leave home again at 4am, due to working on a USC grad student’s film in the Angeles Forest.
Luckily, because of the day, we just set the clock back. Which gave us time – him to figure out where he was going and to play his new Taylor GS Mini (which he ADORES), and me to make a quick breakfast for him to eat on the road (peanut butter and honey sandwich, apple, banana, and two tangerines). An hour (and a couple glasses of wine – oh, and some fresh popcorn) later, we were in bed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
When I woke, Hubby was long gone. I looked outside – it had rained in the night. The clouds were still thick in the sky – I went back to bed for another hour, because I could. For me, “winter” had arrived. It stayed in the 50’s at my house today; the sky was dark by 5pm. Tomorrow morning, when I leave for work, I’ll have to re-learn how to drive when the sun is barely on the horizon and then SLAMS me in the face unexpectedly. When I come home, I’ll have to deal with driving in thick traffic at night along with everyone else, who has forgotten how. In a month, we’ll all have adjusted.
But my day today was an enchanted one, filled with the dripping eaves and a rainbow, the scent of fresh rain and rosemary and a woodfire in someone else’s hearth. It was a day for dawdling and indulging. I dawdled over the newspaper, reading every section of the Los Angeles Times (thin though it is nowadays). I made breakfast for my even later-rising son. I indulged in watching a video, and then did some writing/editing. I made plans for dinner, thanks to romance writer Christina Dodd’s post about macaroni and cheese. I took my son driving, and then went on a long walk (and I even did some very slow jogging – the legbone is feeling strong now).
The hubby came home, having spent the day being snowed on, rained on, sleeted on, then
thanks to http://www.bigfoto.com/themes/nature/winter/
more snow, all while they were filming. He had a big grin on his face though, and the merrily crackling fire in the fireplace just about made his night. Until I handed him some hot spiced wine. Then he fell in love with me all over again.
So, yes, I LOVE the time change. Yes my body takes awhile to adjust – it’s not even nine pm where I am and I was ready for sleep 30 minutes ago. But you know what? I don’t care. It’s a definite shift of the seasons for me, and in a world of perpetual sunshine, the fall’s “fall back” is a lovely signpost to slow down. A breather, if you will, between school starting, and the full swing of the holiday season.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
My first novel, Demon Soul, is available for the Kindle and the Nook! It makes GREAT Holiday gifts!!! *hint hint* lol!
In these tough economic times, it can be difficult deciding which wine to buy, and how much to spend. But no worries – I’m your guide through this interesting dilemma, showcasing wines that can be purchased (usually) for under $10.
Today I’m looking at two Trader Joe’s wines. Both are under $6.00 a bottle – both deserve a second look.
Trader Joe’s Coastal Chardonnay 2009 – Central Coast. Alcohol 13.5% by volume, $4.99 regular price. Vinted and bottled for Trader Joe’s by Castoro Cellars, San Miguel, California
On the Label: “Located in the beautiful valleys of the Central Coast, Trader Joe’s presents this lush Chardonnay. Tropical hints of melon and peaches give way to a crisp and clean finish.”
My Take: This is an interesting wine. It’s not an oaky chardonnay by any means, but neither does it have the steel-infused flavor of a non-oaked chardonnay. It’s as the label says – tropical, crisp, clean. It almost tasted like a cross between a Pinot Grigio and a Chenin Blanc, with the crispness of the Grigio and the hint of sweetness of the Chenin Blanc. I really enjoyed it, to my total surprise. We had it as a sipping wine before dinner, and then with the meal – a lovely Moroccan-inspired dish my Hubby made. With the Hubby off to a big movie shoot late last night, and with me on carpool duty at 9:30pm, we didn’t imbibe the whole bottle – there was enough this morning for hubby to have a glass before he collapsed into bed at 5:15am, and enough for me to have a post-dirty kitchen cleanup glass when I got home this evening. And you know what? It was still a lovely wine.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Especially for the price!
Tuscan Moon Sangiovese 2009 California – Alcohol 13.4% by volume. Vinted and bottled by Trader Moon Wine Co. Manteca, California $4.99 a bottle (or maybe $5.99 – not too sure! But UNDER $6.00)
On the Label: “Sangiovese, the star of the Tuscan wine varieties, is a luscious, full-flavored grape with a shape reminiscent of the full moon in autumn. Tuscan Moon Sangiovese celebrates a lovers rondesvous in the vineyards by the light of the full autumn moon.
“Tuscan Moon Sangiovese is a smooth textured, medium-bodied wine. Enticing aromas of black cherries and plums with flavors of juicy blackberries, ripe blueberries with a hint of spice. Pairs well with a wide variety of foods including pork, beef, duck, creamy pasta dishes or just a plate of olives.”
My Take: This is a nice wine, straight after opening. Do not let it air; instead pour heartily for your guests. Unlike the Chardonnay, this wine did not age well in my refrigerator (even with the proper technology to keep it from spoiling). However, that said, that first day it was a nice wine, big but not too big.
I bought it because a couple days earlier the Hubby and I had gone to see the Kings and the Ducks in a pre-season hockey game. We got to Staples Center so early that we had plenty of time to eat at Wolfgang Puck’s Grill across the street. I chose a pricy Sangiovese to go with our meal, and we thoroughly enjoyed both while people-watching in the common area.
Does this wine match up to the fancy bottle of wine from Wolfgang Puck’s? No. Of course not. But the same Sangiovese grape flavor was there, you could tell they were kissing cousins, and because of that, I was not disappointed.
Plus, I’m a sucker for Moon in the title of just about anything. (Hmmm…must put Moon in the title of my next book…)
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Or maybe I just have higher standards for red wines? At any rate, of all the Trader Moon wines I’ve tried, I’d willingly drink all of them again. And at under $6 a bottle, it’s a bargain.
~ ~ ~
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and it definitely depends upon my mood, whether my kids have done the dishes, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet?